Making Parliament the preserve of delicate flowers
Before everyone gets too excited about reforming Parliament, it has to be remembered the combative nature of the placed has given millions of people a myriad of enjoyment and entertainment over the years.
Sadly the wags and wits of yesteryear have gone and their replacements have, in the main, never been able to replace them, with some remarkable exceptions.
Going way back we had Fred Daley, Bill Wentworth, Jim Killen and Gough Whitlam – today the not so pale current crop has included Keating, Costello, Albanese, Julia herself and up to a point the Mad Monk qualifies until he loses his cool.
Hansard today doesn’t have gems like Whitlam’s comment on Harold Holt and LBJ:
“It’s OK for Holt to go all the way with LBJ; but LBJ doesn’t seem to know where he’s going!”
Or Jim Killen’s pearler on Whitlam:
“I am bound to say of the deputy leader of the opposition (Whitlam) that as he sat down this evening I reached the firm conclusion that he would be the most perfect product of pomposity ever to emerge out of the upper middle class society and fasten himself leech-like on to the egalitarian movement!”
And Killen on Fred Daley:
The speech of the minister (Daley) reminds me of the Irishman in the dock. The judge said: how do you plead? The Irishman replied: I don’t know. I haven’t heard the evidence yet.
Closer to home Julia Gillard showed her forensic skill when Peter Costello interrupted her while she was, as deputy PM, answering a question. She asked to Speaker to tell the Member for Higgins to get back to his computer, “which” she said “ I am reliably informed is permanently tuned to the Job Seek page”.
Paul Keating’s description of The Senate as “unrepresentative swill” is one that is hard to beat and Julie Bishop, Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirabella never quite learned it was fatal to try and the get the better of Anthony Albanese.
Who hasn’t squirmed when witnessing Nicola Roxon taking Peter Dutton to task over the Oppositions policies and Gillard got a laugh when she referred to Bronwyn as the face of “tomorrow’s Liberal Party”.
Parliament might need an overhaul, but let’s not get too precious too soon.
There are some Members who might be able to emulate some of the wits and wags that have gone before them.
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